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Parliament Weekly: March 11-16

Caucus reshuffle - Centennial of Constituent Assembly - Committees discuss forests, pensions, children rights - Foreign, Reconciliation Ministers heard - Judicial appointments controversy grinds on

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Bureau meeting

The MPs endorsed the agenda of the March 19-22 plenary sessions at the parliamentary bureau meeting on Monday.

Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze said – without specifying the date – that Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani will report to the lawmakers during the plenary session.

European Georgia’s proposal on setting up Parliament’s interim investigative commission to study alleged pressure on the persons affiliated with TBC Bank and Anaklia Development Consortium has also been put on the agenda.

The bill on making amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts has also been registered.

New caucus configuration in the Parliament

The bureau sitting took note of the resignations filed by several lawmakers. In particular, MPs Gia Zhorzholiani and Mirian Tsiklauri quit the Georgian Dream – Social-Democrats faction; MPs Sulkhan Makhatadze and Roman Muchiashvili from the same faction moved to the Georgian Dream faction.

MP Ioseb Makrakhidze quit the Georgian Dream – Strong Economy faction and moved to the Georgian Dream – Industrialists faction.

MP Shota Shalelashvili moved from the Georgian Dream – Industrialists faction to the Georgian Dream faction. MP Ruslan Poghosiani quit the Social Democrats faction as well, but will stay in the majority group.

MP Koba Narchemashvili also quit the Georgian Dream’s majority group and joined the Parliament’s health and social affairs committee.

Independent lawmaker Nato Chkheidze joined the Parliament’s human rights and civil integration committee.

MP Eka Beselia, who recently quit the parliamentary majority group, joined the committee on legal issues chaired by her until December 2018.

100th anniversary of the Constituent Assembly 

To celebrate the centennial of convention of the Constituent Assembly in 1919, Niko Pirosmani Museum in the village of Mirzaani hosted the meeting of women MPs of all convocations. The women politicians reviewed the centennial period of Georgian parliamentary system and spoke about the role and engagement of women in Georgian policy-making.

On March 12, the day when the Constituent Assembly gathered in 1919, Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, along with government members, participated in the celebratory events.

Foreign parliaments and officials congratulated the Parliament of Georgia on this date.

Committee hearings

On March 11, the Parliament’s Sectoral Economy and Economic Policy committee deliberated on the legislative proposal initiated by the opposition European Georgia party to amend the Law of Georgia on Accumulative Pension System.

The bill was submitted by MP Otar Kakhidze and it envisages suspension of Articles 7 and 21 (on regulations) of already adopted and enacted Law on Accumulative Pension System till January 1, 2020.

The lawmaker also noted that the European Georgia party has developed a separate bill foreseeing voluntary (rather than obligatory) engagement in the accumulative pension system. The MPs, however, did not endorse the bill.

Among other issues, the committee members also discussed and supported the Code on the Rights of the Child.

Also on March 11, the Human Rights and Civic Integration committee discussed in its first hearing the government’s legislative proposal on the Forest Code of Georgia.

According to the Parliament, the proposal offers a new legal definition of forests, which would lead to redefinition of the forest boundaries. Moreover, licenses on timber processing will be abolished and the principles of “multi-functional forest use” will be introduced, according to which forests will be divided into various categories depending on the purpose of exploitation.

On March 13, the Committee on Agrarian Issues discussed and supported the draft Forest Code.

On March 13, the committees for European Integration and On Education, Science and Culture heard the report on the fulfillment of the 2018 National Action Plan on implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agenda.

On March 13, the Committee on Finance and Budget discussed and supported the legislative proposal initiated by the European Georgia party on accumulative pension. Among other issues, the committee also discussed the forest code and 22 accompanying bills.

On March 13, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili reported to the regional policy and self-government committee on the situation in the occupied regions and the key principles of the government’s peace policy.

Tsikhelashvili noted detentions as one of the main problems persisting in the occupied regions. “They [ethnic Georgians] have to live under extremely grave conditions. They face a huge threat; our citizens are detained when they cross from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region to Georgia proper,” she noted, adding that despite the problems, the government’s peace policy has no alternative.

On March 14, Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani reported to the joint session of the Parliament’s European Integration and Foreign Relations committees on the Foreign Policy Strategy for 2019-2022 and EU integration report. During a Q&A session, opposition MPs asked him critical questions about foreign policy issues and relations with Russia.

On March 15, the Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration committee discussed the bill on making amendments to the Criminal Code of Georgia, envisaging criminal charges for facilitating abuse of the right on asylum in a foreign country.

On March 15, the Committee for Procedural Issues and Rules discussed three bills on common courts. One bill was developed by the Parliamentary Chairman and the majority lawmakers; the second – by MP Eka Beselia and 12 MPs, and the third by European Georgia.

The committee voted in favor of the bill submitted by the majority group. The discussions will continue at the legal issues committee.

On March 16, the Committee for Legal voted for the Draft Code on the Rights of the Child. The committee also discussed several legislative proposals, among others amendments to the criminal code, envisaging criminal charges for facilitating abuse of the right on shelter in a foreign country.

Proposal on suspending lifetime judicial appointments

MP Eka Beselia announced at a news briefing on March 11 that the work has been launched to develop a new proposal on suspending lifetime appointment of judges. She also noted that a new constitutional amendment will be developed to guarantee that the issue of judicial appointments will not be put on the agenda until the justice reform is completed in the country and the new High Council of Justice is composed.

Visits

  • On March 11-19, Dimitri Tskitishvili, member of the Parliament’s gender equality council, attended the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
  • On March 12, Georgian MPs, paying a working visit to Germany, met with Dirk Wiese of the Social-Democratic Party of Bundestag, who simultaneously is the coordinator of the Federal Government of Germany in relations with Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Partnership countries. According to the Parliament’s press office, Sophio Kiladze, head of the parliamentary delegation, requested the Bundestag to adopt a resolution underlining the territorial integrity of Georgia and the grave humanitarian and human rights situation in the occupied regions, as well as Georgia’s EU and NATO aspirations.

Meetings

Parliament Chairman

  • On March 13, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze held a meeting with Vice Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia, Hidayat Nur Wahid to discuss bilateral relations.
  • On March 13, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze met with Ambassadors of Greece and Kazakhstan, Dimitrios Karabalis and Baurzhan Mukhamejanov, respectively. The parties discussed bilateral parliamentary and economic relations.
  • On March 13, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze also met with the Friendship Group of the Parliament of Iran. The parties discussed political and economic relations between the two countries and focused on the issues of cooperation in various fields, including education, science, culture and tourism.
  • On March 14, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze met with Foreign Minister of Vanuatu, Ralph Regenvanu. According to the Parliament’s press office, Regenvanu reaffirmed Vanuatu’s support to territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia.
  • On March 15, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze met with Karlheinz Kopf, the Secretary General of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and the accompanying delegation.

Other meetings

  • On March 11, Otar Danelia, chair of the agrarian issues committee, met with foreign diplomats accredited in Georgia to present the draft Organic Law on Agricultural Lands. According to the draft, a foreign national will only be eligible to own the land if it has been inherited; in case of a legal entity, if Georgian citizen, a group of citizens or Georgian entity dominates with 50% and over, the right to property will not be limited.
  • On March 12, Irakli Kovzanadze, chair of the Committee on Budget and Finance, met the EU Commission Neighborhood Policy Directorate representatives to discuss the commitments of the Committee under the EU Budget Support program.
  • On March 13, Sophio Katsarava, chair of the Parliament’s Foreign relations committee, met with Vice Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia, Hidayat Nur Wahid and discussed the issues of deepening bilateral parliamentary and political cooperation.
  • On March 13, Irakli Kovzanadze, chair of the Parliament’s budget and finance committee, met with Latvian Ambassador, Ingrīda Levrence to discuss the economic situation in Georgia, business-friendly environment, as well as ongoing and planned reforms.
  • On March 13, MPs Eka Beselia and Levan Gogichaishvili met with Cristian Urse, head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia to discuss the issue of sending the bill on the process and criteria of selecting the Supreme Court judges initiated by 13 lawmakers to the Council of Europe.
  • On March 13, Shalva Kiknavelidze, head of Georgia-Iran Friendship Group, met with Iran’s parliamentary delegation visiting Georgia. The parties discussed the relations between the two legislatures and focused on political outcomes of bilateral cooperation.
  • On March 15, the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sophio Katsarava and the Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Tamar Khulordava met with the Secretary General of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Karlheinz Kopf. Later on the same day, Sophio Katsarava met with the Iranian delegation to discuss bilateral relations and the ways of boosting these ties.
  • On March 16, members of the Permanent Parliamentary Open Government Council met with media representatives and briefed them on the activities aimed to improve the Parliament’s accountability, as well as future projects.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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